The City of Kwinana was one of twenty local governments to participate in the SBDC’s Small Business Friendly Approvals program over the past two years. Since 2021, the City has implemented the majority of reforms they identified to improve the small business experience in Kwinana.
The City of Kwinana was selected for the Small Business Friendly Approvals Program at the start of 2021. The local government, with more than 2,200 small businesses operating within its boundaries, assigned a multi-disciplinary working group team to examine the application processes for small businesses looking to commence in the City. Chosen for their skill set, openness to driving transformational change through human-centred design thinking, and ‘can do’ attitudes, the working group immersed themselves in an intensive, full-time, 10-day workshop.
The City’s team used a human-centred design approach to define the challenges and difficulties in navigating the sometimes-complex process of meeting regulatory obligations, through the lens of a small business customer. They then used these learnings to problem-solve and develop a series of improvements to the City of Kwinana’s processes and information.
By the end of the intensive program, the working group had identified 50 high level actionable reforms, with 250 individual tasks under the five reform pillars of:
- Business support
- Streamline processes, and
- Rethinking the rules.
Like all local governments across Australia, significant resource movement across the sector impacted on the City’s ability to retain momentum in their reforms. To ensure their commitments were fulfilled, the team introduced regular ‘reset sessions’ to review reform relevance, adjust tasks and responsibilities where required, and inform ongoing project development across the organisation.
The City of Kwinana’s dedication has realised outstanding results, with 87 per cent of identified reforms implemented in the 18 months since completing the program. Examples of these reforms include:
- Developing self-help checklists and guidelines for small business applicants
- Enabling online lodgement for community food and event applications
- Reviewing local food business trading permit requirements
- Removing the requirement for a building permit for Low Risk Temporary Structures
- Repealing a local law requiring a licence for signage
- Creating and launching a Business Hub on the City of Kwinana website, that was user-tested with small business users
- Trialling a co-working space
- Preparing a new events policy and guidelines
The City of Kwinana CEO, Wayne Jack, said of the process:
“The opportunity for our dedicated team to use the human-centred design approach was one of the key factors in enabling them to identify and achieve so many reforms in such a short time.
“While we all started out wanting to create an environment in Kwinana that was conducive to starting a business, actually understanding the impact that barriers to starting and growing has on small business owners and operators was key to our officers approaching all the City’s processes with a new point of view.
“I’m very proud of the point we have arrived at, achieving nearly 90 per cent of identified reforms in our program, and confident it will help make the City of Kwinana a location of choice for small business creation and growth.”